Iowa wins ACC Challenge matchup, 98-93

BY BEN ROSS | DECEMBER 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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A sellout crowd showed up to watch Iowa take on Notre Dame in the biggest home game of the 2013-14 season, and the same team fans watched excel in the Bahamas over break showed up to silence the Fighting Irish, 98-93.

Iowa won the tip, and Melsahn Basabe put the Black and Gold on the board first. The contest, which saw six lead changes, stayed tight all along, but Iowa had a 9-point lead going into the half. Junior center Gabe Olaseni was a spark off the bench in the first frame, scoring 9 points and recording 5 assists.

“It always feels good to come in and try to affect the game with energy,” Olaseni said after the game. “I saw we were lacking on the boards, we weren’t really scoring, so I tried to pick up the team in those two areas.”

Notre Dame came in hot in the second half, led by fifth-year senior Garrick Sherman at center. He scored 18 in the first half alone and made Iowa defenders look silly in the lane.

The Hawkeyes squandered a 9-point lead at the beginning of the second frame, and Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery pulled everyone on the floor for except for Devyn Marble. And for good reason.

Notre Dame took 52-45 Iowa lead and turned it into a 55-57 lead of its own. Then Marble scored 13-straight points, making his quiet 4 points in the first half an afterthought. The senior guard helped Iowa rebuild a 68-62 lead, but the Irish would not go away.

Marble said Iowa’s losing in the championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis to Villanova helped him in his scoring surge in the second half. The senior finished the game with 17 points.

“They took the lead after we had them by 9 points in the first half,” Marble said. “I just saw the same thing that happened with Villanova happen; I didn’t want to have that feeling again. That’s what games like Villanova are for; you have to learn from them and not make that same mistake twice.”

Notre Dame knotted it back up at 71 with a little over eight minutes to play, but that was as close as Irish could get. With a little under four minutes to play, Iowa was in the double bonus and hit 14-of-17 free throws then, helping Iowa win its eighth game of the season.

It was a margin that not even Sherman could overcome, who ended the night with a career-high 29 points. Iowa was able to quiet him down a bit in the second half, holding the senior to just 11 points in the final half. He finished the game just short of a double-double with 9 rebounds to go with his scoring.

“Sherman was hurting us,” McCaffery said after the game. “We decided not to double [team Sherman]. We were going with tough 2s rather than 3s. We felt like if we could keep them under 10 3s, we would win the game.”

Notre Dame ended up 8-of-17 from long range but still made 51 percent of its shots from the floor. It’s tough to beat a team that shoots that well, but Iowa made 57 percent of its shots, which McCaffery said is the best thing you can do to counter a hot-handed team.

There was a time where it looked as though Iowa would blow its lead once again, this with under a minute left. Jarrod Uthoff had an easy rebound under the hoop but let it go out of bounds. Eric Atkins hit a jumper to put Notre Dame within 3, but the Irish fouled Uthoff, sending the transfer to the line. He made 8-of-10 free throws on the night and helped seal the deal in front of a sold-out home crowd.

“I don’t know what to say,” Uthoff said of his free-throw shooting after the game. “I was feeling my shot. In warm-ups, I was shooting it all right, and when I’m shooting all right in warm-ups, I’m usually pretty good in games.”

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